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Who Is Jah In Jamaican Culture?

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rasta_farm_in_jamaicaWho Is Jah In Jamaican Culture

by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer

Whether or not you’ve travelled to Jamaica, there are some things that you will most likely know about Jamaica already. This includes the presence of Rastafarians and how religion has impacted our rich culture particularly our music and even our food and religious practices.

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bob_marley_in_reflectionBob Marley

Speaking of religion, you have come to recognize the late Bob Marley as the most famous Rastafarian but these days even political figures, are among the practising Rastafarians. Here is some information to add to your knowledge.

Who is Jah in Jamaican Culture?

Jah is the name given to “God” in Rastafari. The name comes directly from the Bible in Psalm 68:4 where the word is capitalised.

“Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol Him that rideth upon the heavens by His name JAH, and rejoice before Him”.

Jah is believed to be the shortened version of the Hebrew word for God, Yahweh. The name is regarded as being too sacred to be pronounced.

What is Jah Rastafari?

haile_selassie_google_imagesHaile Selassie | (Photo: Googleimages.com)

In 1975, the term ‘Jah Rastafari’ began to be associated with Haile Selassie. Rastafari is taken from Ras Tafari, and Makonnen is his actual family name.

He assumed the royal name Haile Selassie meaning “Might of the Trinity” at his coronation. Rastafari is taken from Ras Tafari, the title and first name of Haile Selassie I prior to his coronation.

In Amharic, Ras, means "head", the Ethiopian title equivalent to prince or chief, while the personal given name Täfäri means one who is revered.

Jah is a Biblical name of God, from a shortened form of Yahweh or Jehovah found in Psalms 68:4 in the King James Version of the Bible. So Jah Rastafari could be broken down to mean something like a revered emperor.

Do Rastas believe in God?

Rastas do believe in God but not necessarily in the Christian sense. Rastas believe that Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia is Christ reincarnated on earth. This is due in part to the declaration of Marcus Garvey that a King will be born in Africa who would lead Black people out of the oppression they faced.

The name for the religion “Rastafari” comes directly from the name of Haile Selassie before his coronation as King, Tafari Makonnen. Ras is the Ethiopian word for Lord.

What is the name of the Rastas Bible?

Rastas use the Holy Bible; a special edition including the Old and New Testament, including the books of Enoch, Jubilees, and the Kebra Nagast which are not included in the Christian version of the Bible.

What do dreads mean in the Bible?

There is a biblical endorsement for wearing dreadlocks, as evidenced in several biblical references. Among them Judges 16, where it is clearly stated that Samson had seven locs. That signalled that he had taken the Nazarite vow, the locs showed his commitment/or that he had been aside for the Lord’s use.

What culture refers to God as Jah?

Jah is the name given to God in Rastafari. It is also used culturally by Jamaicans who will use the word Jah referring to their Christian interpretation of God since they are not Rastafarians themselves.

It is a monotheistic religion, meaning that followers believe in one god. Since Haile Selassie is the central figure in Rastafarianism, it is he who is referred to as Jah, as his followers believe him to be the Christian Messiah incarnate.

Notably, Haile Selassie discouraged the notion but devout Rastafarians assert that he is much too modest to claim his divinity. Others regard him as being unaware of his divinity.

The beliefs of the Rastafarian are complicated and are often misunderstood. However, the Rastafarian's belief system is often oversimplified to refer to anyone who has dreadlocks, smokes marijuana, and plays Reggae music as a Rasta.

It must be noted that there are more than those three elements to being a Rasta. Some regard it as more of a way of life. Chiefly it emphasizes peace and oneness with nature.

See: The History of the Rastafarians, What Is A Rasta Woman?

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Watch Video! RASTAFARI Village Experience | IRITS

This is a DIFFERENT kind of Adventure! This visit to the Rastafari Indigenous village for their IRITS event is one of the most intriguing adventures I've had!

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References & Sources For Who Is Jah In Jamaica?

  1. (no date) Debate central - since 1994. Available at: https://debate.uvm.edu/dreadlibrary/grant02.htm (Accessed: October 24, 2022).
  2. Haile Selassie - King, god or redeemer? (2020) Black History Month 2022. Available at: https://www.blackhistorymonth.org.uk/article/section/bhm-heroes/haile-selassie-king-god-or-redeemer/#:~:text=He%20is%20Ras%20Tafari%3A%20that (Accessed: October 24, 2022).
  3. The meaning of dreadlocks explained - dreadlockulture (no date). Available at: https://dreadlockulture.com/meaning-of-dreadlocks/ (Accessed: October 24, 2022).
  4. Rastafari (no date) Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Rastafari (Accessed: October 24, 2022).

Who is Jah In Jamaican Culture | Written: October 24, 2022

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